Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

February 20, 2013

Industry, environmentalists mull 'fracking' rules


Patula said there is no reason for Illinois to rush into fracking without carefully studying implications for the environment, jobs, agriculture and tourism. She said she fears the industry could be "a boom and bust" for Illinois that would import workers from other states, then move on while leaving the state with long-term problems.

"What about farming and tourism? They could take serious hit from this," said Patula. "Would it really create cheaper energy for Illinois and for how long? Why not invest in industries that can bring energy here forever and not put families out of their homes?"

While industry and environmentalists don't often work on legislation together — especially on something as contentious as fracking — momentum is building for fracking in Illinois and it was wise for everyone to be at the table to establish regulations, those involved in the discussions said.

"Illinois is likely on the verge of a fracking rush, so it's essential for that reason to have safeguards in place to protect the public," said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council's Midwest program, who has participated in negotiations. "Illinois has the opportunity to be a leader here; we can do right what other states have not done right ... with basic commonsense protections."

The bill, which those involved in the talks say likely will be introduced in the state House by Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Republican, would set rules for limiting air pollution and protecting drinking water and establish setbacks from residential areas. Alexander said such basic protections are just a start, and lawmakers can tweak regulations as needed.

Bradley did not return phone messages from The Associated Press, but he told The State Journal-Register in Springfield that "there's a desire that there be some certainty that it won't be stopped at some point."

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